Crumbling headstones. Tangled weeds. Dark histories. Abandoned asylum cemeteries certainly have a spooky atmosphere. The real-life stories behind these plots are chilling as well. Insane asylums were popular throughout the most of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when psychological care was in its infancy. But the practice of mass containment of the mentally ill fell out of favor, and the asylums closed.
In the decades since, most cities with abandoned asylums on their outskirts left the buildings and their accompanying cemeteries to decay. Advances in medical technology combined with a lack of government funding meant that these buildings were not properly taken care of before they were closed down entirely. In some cases, all that remains of the asylums are the abandoned cemeteries containing hundreds of patients who died while forced to stay there. It's no wonder that ghostly tales surround these lonely, possibly haunted cemeteries.
A Wailing Gravedigger Haunts The Bartonville AsylumPhoto: Sarah Eades / via Pinterest
All four cemeteries remaining at the long-closed Bartonville Asylum in Peoria, IL, are said to be haunted by the ghost of a man known as "Old Book." He was a patient there in the early 1900s, known only by his former occupation: a bookbinder. Doctors placed him on grave digging duty, and he would mourn each patient loudly, wailing as their caskets went into the ground.
When Old Book died himself, one doctor reports that he appeared at his own funeral, mourning his death. His spirit supposedly remains in the cemetery, and can be heard crying at night over the bodies buried there.
Strange Lights Appear At The RidgesPhoto: spookygraveyards.com / via Pinterest
The Ridges, also known as Athens State Hospital, was an operating mental institution and tuberculosis hospital in Ohio throughout most of the 20th century. It opened in 1873, and had rooms for over 500 patients. By the 1980s, it was shut down. The land has since become the property of Ohio University, which remodeled and reused the buildings, despite the many paranormal incidents that students have reportedly experienced. The asylum cemetery is also apparently haunted, complete with disembodied voices and strange lights that appear when no one is there.
A Little Girl Named Lily Lingers At The Trans-Allegheny AsylumPhoto: playwithdeath.com / via Pinterest
The Trans-Allegheny Asylum, also known as the Weston State Hospital, is located in West Virginia. The asylum was designed to be self-sufficient, complete with a farm for patients to convalesce at, and a cemetery for them to be buried in.
Today, the cemetery is rumored to be haunted. Some of its specters include a creepy man in black and a little girl by the name of Lily, who are said to pop up in front of people before disappearing.
Ghostly Children Tell Visitors To "Get Out" Of Pennhurst AsylumPhoto: Allie Quinn / via Pinterest
The buildings that make up Pennhurst Asylum - located in Spring City, PA - are supposedly so haunted that many people refuse to take a ghost tour there, in fear of having something thrown at them by a malevolent spirit. The asylum once housed physically and mentally challenged children, and many of their bodies fill the unmarked graves in the cemetery. Shadowy figures, eerie voices screaming "get out," and levitating items are just some of the things that visitors have witnessed among the stones.